If you are like me, whenever you run across an extremely creative website for one of your favorite brands or products, after the shock and awe wears off your first thought is “Who made this?!”. Odds are, it was not created directly by the company that it is promoting. Most of the time, these brilliant examples of web ingenuity and sometimes nearly flawless marketing pieces are created by world renowned design studios, creative agencies, and web development companies. You can thank these companies for a lot of the beautiful gems we find dotting the landscape of the vast internet. (If you need some web development services btw, feel free to contact us!)
Top Creative Agencies, Sewing The Digital Tapestry
Whenever you see a web development company similar to those we are talking about today, their history is always interesting. Typically formed by groups of passionate individuals, made up of designers and developers, these guys love what they do, and have usually done it for quite a while as they understand exactly what their client needs. Their need to have full control over their work as well as their desire to help brands create awesome experiences are the driving fuel for them to create these massive creative agencies. Not only is their work a source of inspiration for many designers, they are also on the bleeding edge of the industry in most cases, paving the way for trends that show up here and there on the interwebs.
Whether you are a beginner to web design, or an expert with years of experience under your belt – you may have seen some of the companies we are talking about today in your journeys. I know that when I first saw some of them, I used to want to work for these inspirational places long before I became a freelancer (which to me, is like having a mini awesome agency!) and they pushed me to higher levels because I wanted to be there one day. I hope that these inspirational companies inspire you as well today, and whatever you do with that inspiration I hope you ENJOY!
The Legendary 2Advanced Studios! Founded by its Chief Creative Director Eric Jordan, 2advanced is perhaps one of the best in the industry. I had to include these guys in the list not only because they are a great and inspirational company, but because personally they were one of the very first “completely epic” websites that I had ever seen at the time back when I first got into the web development game. Just seeing their completely original and complex flash site design (yeah, it was flash, and it was the shiznit back in 2006 lol) called the V.5 “Attractor” inspired me beyond belief and helped me to push myself and learn everything I could to up my design game in hopes of one day being “That awesome” lol. The music paired with the visuals on that site design were so crisp and powerful, it also reminded me a lot of “Aliens vs. Predator” with the pyramid and the symbols haha. You can check out said site design below.
Another reason they stuck in my mind for so long other than their awesome work, for huge clients, over the span of many years, is their freaking badass custom designed conference table – When I first saw it I thought it was probably one of the coolest conference tables any company could ever have (I still think this, but I used to, too lol). But it was just so awesome that I thought it was really a great symbol or achievement, and hope to one day have the ability to customize something so awesome for my own office. If you want to see the awesome custom table, here it is!
So yeah definitely check out their work and get inspired! They do everything from web design to development to 3D Motion and Animation.
Formerly AgencyNet, this award winning Design studio has an 18 year history and is based in New York City, NY and Fort Lauderdale, FL. These guys were another inspiration for me as I was entering the web design scene many years ago. I often went to their awesome site, which at the time was an interactive flash site (don’t hate, it was like 2005 or 2006 lol) and would daydream actually about what it would be like to work there, and just work on awesome stuff all day. It was an interactive view of their offices basically, complete with lounge chairs and employees wandering around and working and what not, fun stuff! So it was another driving force of inspiration for me, as I pushed myself to the limits to acquire skills that would one day get me on that level! You can see said site design (actually its a little more updated than the one I used to daydream over, but still great and similar) below.
Over their amazing 18 year history they have done a lot of awesome things. Everything from building the HBO Interactive site in the year 2000, to getting a Guinness World Record for Most Social Mentions in 2012. They have worked with some of the biggest brands in the world, and have even done some pretty buzzed about work for the likes of Jay-Z and Rihanna. If you want to check out some more of their achievements over the years, check out their cool timeline below that they have built on their site .
Big Spaceship is a digital creative agency located in Brooklyn, New York. The company, which specializes in interactive marketing and communications, was founded in 2000 by Michael Lebowitz and Daniel Federman. The company has an interesting history (and continues to be an evolving inspiration in the design industry) as it started out with a main purpose to serve the entertainment industry, it still does that, but it has branched out into other industries helping companies excel in design, and on the web. In 2008, Big Spaceship was selected by Linden Lab to redesign the user experience for Second Life.
Big Spaceship: Creative Inspirations
It has had many honors and awards over the years for not only their work, but also the way they have structured their business! Big Spaceship’s structure was studied by Harvard Business School. The resulting case study, released in February 2009, posed the question of how Big Spaceship would continue to grow while maintaining the culture that has sustained its success.
The agency’s creative process and emphasis on collaboration were also explored in a 2008 Lynda.com documentary “Creative Inspirations”. I would recommend anyone interested in running an awesome agency, big or small, takes some pages from their book (the documentary is awesome too btw).
Happy Cog is truly a legendary agency in the web industry. They have been designing digital experiences ever since the web first existed, and they have managed to stay ahead of the curve. Founded by the amazing Jeffrey Zeldman in 1999, it continues to be a leader in web design standards and keeps evolving to stay ahead of the game. They have also branched out and created the extremely awesome “A List Apart” website, books, and events that fuel the industry. They build award winning websites and have even moved into the hosting business since its inception!
Historical agency Leo Burnett has a fascinating story as well! A Private company formed in 1935 and officially running under the name of ‘Leo Burnett Company, Inc.’ Which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Publicis Groupe. The Company started with eight employees and three clients. It now operates with 200 units globally and the company also includes ‘a variety of speciality marketing services and 94 full-service advertising agencies in 83 countries.’.
“Headquartered more than a thousand miles from Manhattan, the Chicago-based Leo Burnett Company creates unique advertising campaigns grounded in traditional American values and traditions. The majority of its clients are large, consumer-driven corporations, marketing everything from fast food to cigarettes to frozen foods.”
The advertising agency employs around 6,950 and using all these employees for all their talents, Leo Burnett Company is the workings behind some of the most famous advertising icons in our time, some of these include the Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger and the well known Marlboro Man.
The Leo Burnett Company is famous for its employee retention. It has a long standing reputation for keeping employees at their company and according to a company executive “new staffers are assigned to their first account “for life”. In the company, layoffs are very rare.
One of the first times I had ever become aware of the company was when they created a completely awesome flash site with a big black pencil – its hard to explain, so luckily you can experience yourself by clicking the image below for their old site :D.
RED Interactive Agency
Another memorable point of inspiration is the day that I landed on Red Interactive Agencies “virtual chatroom” website. My mind was blown, you could create a character and instantly you were transported into this awesome chatroom world where you could walk around (or fly) and chat with anyone else that was “in the world” that were also on the website at the same time as you – at the time it was completely revolutional! (you can check it out still, its called “reduniverse” as pictured below). Also the fact that their domain is the hex code for red (ff0000) it instantly gives any developer a nice geek feeling. Check out their award winning work and get inspired!
Another full service digital agency located in the US and the UK. They have been in the industry for quite a while like the others, with some exceptional project examples! Take a look through their portfolio and drown in creative ideas and inspiration! They have even worked for NASA – any geeks dream!
AKQA is an ideas and innovation company specializing in creating digital services, products, communications and experiences. AKQA has offices in London, San Francisco, New York, Paris, Washington, D.C., Amsterdam, Berlin, Shanghai, Tokyo, Atlanta and Portland, totaling 1,120 full-time employees. You can check out some awesome examples of their best work on their site (and on their wiki page). AKQA has previously been named Revolution’s Agency of the Decade (1997 to 2007). In 2006 Creativity magazine gives AKQA its inaugural Interactive Agency of the Year award, recognizing the agency’s “global culture, creative hires and technological muscle.” Creativity editor Teressa Iezzi says: “We thought AKQA embodied the spirit of the big-idea-first approach.”
Their current site, is pretty awesome, it is very minimal and modern and uses what looks like a random live webcam feed from their office being filtered into their background – awesome stuff! Razorfish, like some of the others, has a truly unique and awesome history. It was founded in New York in 1995 by Craig Kanarick and Jeff Dachis with the motto “Solutions to Hard Problems.” and was originally headquartered at Jeff’s apartment in Alphabet City in Manhattan. A few months later, they moved in to an office at 580 Broadway with three other employees. Their first project was to build a website for the New York Botanical Garden, which was paid for by Time Warner’s Time-Life Books division. They were one of the first companies to have an animated homepage, utilizing the “server-push” capabilities of the latest version of the Netscape browser. Because of this and aggressive marketing tactics, their work became well known, well-respected, and the firm grew quickly over the next few years. Soon thereafter, they received a strategic investment from Omnicom (along with other New Media pioneers, Agency.com, Red Sky Interactive, Think New Ideas and Organic), making them one of the first firms to be financed by a traditional media holding company. Razorfish used this money to move to new offices, redesign their branding (to include the slogan “Everything that can be digital will be.”) and expand operations. It and other New York-based Web design companies formed the core of a cluster of New Media companies known as Silicon Alley. In January 1998, Razorfish made its first of what was to be many acquisitions, by purchasing Avalanche Systems. In 1998, Razorfish acquired Plastic in San Francisco, and London-based CHBi, and Los Angeles-based <tag> media and then merged with Scandinavian interactive leader, Spray, which had offices in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Germany, making the company a true international player.
Another award winning studio, like some of the other companies featured here, JUXT Interactive first opened its doors in another era back in 1998, and their internet connection ran through a dial-up modem. With those humble beginnings it is clear that they were driven by a thrust for innovation. They have since worked with many of the best brands on the planet. They continue to evolve to keep ahead of the industry, as you can easily see by browsing through their portfolio!
Need more completely inspirational web development company designs? Check out these awesome examples!
What was your favorite Web Design Company? Have you worked for an awesome development agency? Share with the class in the comments below! Thanks for Reading!